Blogging for the locals

Last week Frank asked how a pastor can promote his blog locally. He asked this in reference to this post. His question is pertinent for the local church because it exists for the people in a specific community first. I think this is a great question and he had some solid suggestions. The question was also good for me personally because it's easy to think about the broad reach (national and worldwide) rather than the more narrow one (your own community). Here are some things I have or will encourage the pastor to do:

Website: The most obvious place to link to the blog is on the front page of the church's website. I assume this is a given...but it doesn't hurt to state the obvious in case it's not obvious to someone.

Church Sign: The church is in a very good location and its new sign (attached to the side of the church in this case) will clearly communicate the church URL as well as the church name itself.

Yard Signs: My friend Dustin, pastor at Crossing Church in Louisville, told me recently about a signage campaign they did. They used yard signs kind of like the ones all the political candidates use and put them around the community with the statement: “We'll change the way you think about church.” Then they put the church's name and URL. That was it. So far it's worked well for them. They've had several individuals and families state that the signs were their first introduction to the church. You can get the signs pretty cheap too...so it was a good investment for this new congregation.

Op-ed in local newspaper: Fortunately for the pastor, he lives in a small town where the opportunities for promotion can be a little easier than a large city. That being the case I encouraged him to approach the local paper to give a weekly or semi-monthly “spiritual” editorial. The only request was that the byline will include the church URL (and now that he has a blog that should go in the byline as well). The paper agreed to this arrangement and he's supposed to start writing for them in the near future. It's amazing what you can get when you just ask.

Comments in other local blogs: There are other people in his community who blog on a number of different things. A quick search for his city in Technorati shows a little over 2,200 blogs posts alone with some relation to his community. If he will spend some time looking through them and making some comments on their sites he'll find over the next few months that he's developed a network of local bloggers...all of whom are potential church visitors (and potential bloggers about about the church as well).

MySpace.com: MySpace and any other social networking site inherently connects people with other people so it's worth the 30 minutes to set a profile up for the church. Once the church is on MySpace it can post each service as an “event” and any MySpace user within a 5-500 mile radius (based on the zip code) can see it. On a side note, there's a new site launching in beta next week called MyChurch.org. It's essentially going to be Facebook.com for churches. I'll have more about them later this week but I had an opportunity at an early glance into the site and it's going to be another great connection point for churches with other local churches and individuals in their communities.

Flickr.com: You can learn a lot about a community by searching Flickr.com for the city's name. I actually talked about this a while back in a post dedicated to churches using Flickr. You can find it here...but every church (or any organization for that matter) should include the city and state as tags when it creates images in Flickr because at some point everyone within Flickr will want to see what kind of pictures are posted by people around them.

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